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10 Beautiful Canal Towns (That Aren't Venice)

When it comes to a romantic punt along a canal, Venice, Italy is always top of mind. But plenty of other cities around the world are built around enchanting canal systems. Here are 10 of the most beautiful canal towns that aren't Venice.
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By Jason Heidemann for the Orbitz Travel Blog

When it comes to a romantic punt along a canal, Venice, Italy is always top of mind. But plenty of other cities around the world are built around enchanting canal systems. Here are 10 of the most beautiful canal towns that aren't Venice.

1. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Perhaps the second most famous city in the world with a canal system, breezy and tolerant Amsterdam has more than 60 miles of waterways that ring the city center in a concentric horseshoe fashion and give it an undeniably romantic air. Although they aren't the cleanest waters, there's still nothing prettier than standing perched upon a bridge and admiring the way the buildings appear to melt right into the water.

2. Annecy, France
Pretty Annecy is an artist's painting come to life. Only 26 miles south of Geneva, Switzerland, this Alpine city boasts a historic old town filled with cobblestone streets and painted in a vibrant palate of colors that give the canals a vibrant pastel hue. If you can pull yourself away from irresistible selfies taken along the quaint pedestrian walkways, stroll down to shimmering Lake Annecy for gorgeous mountain views.

3. Bruges, Belgium
If it's a fairytale version of Europe you're imagining, book a trip to Bruges, a picturesque Belgium city which has several visitor-worthy distinctions including a historic city center that is lined with medieval architecture (and is thus designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site), enough chocolate shops around every magical corner to satisfy even the most insatiable sweet tooth and miles of undeniably charming waterways.

4. Fenghuang, China
The literal translation for this tiny--by Chinese standards anyway--city of 350,000 people is 'Phoenix,' a bird who is reborn and rises from the flames. It is an apt description for a place that has survived a rebellion and several natural disasters. In Fenghuang, water flows freely throughout this ancient mountain city so much so that houses are built on stilts. Stand atop one of its bridges and marvel at its 1300-year history.

5. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Often referred to as the "Venice of America," sunny and affluent Fort Lauderdale is so much more than than its 165 miles of navigable waterways, but we won't deny them their rightful charms. Take a boat tour and learn about their fascinating origins and snap a few pics of the many outrageous mansions lining them or jump in the water and do the canal system via kayak and be prepared to meet a few friendly iguanas.

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